1. Introduce yourself: your name and where you’re from.
I'm Kristen Shaw, and I'm from Freeport, Illinois, a smaller town in the northwest corner of the state, right along the Wisconsin border.
2. Where do you live in Los Angeles?
We just moved to Mar Vista after being in Venice and Marina Del Rey for the last six years. We moved to the sweetest house that has history and charm dating back to the early 1900s. My favorite part is both the front and back yards-- I'm still pinching myself that we have this kind of space in LA! The street we're on used to be old horse stables, hence the larger lots. We've got a bit of a little farm in the city vibes going on here; we're raising baby chicks and will have fresh eggs come December.
Both Nick and I want our space to feel as self-sustainable as possible, while also being a fun, inviting space for entertaining. I'm big into cooking + baking, so we're planting a large edible garden to make our food from. We both also put studios in our detached space so I can do hair, and he can train his clients. We've rounded it out with a sauna and ice bath that we like to share with our clients when they're here, so they can get an amazing total wellness package. We want our space to both be inviting for us, and also for our clients, and are so excited to see them enjoying the garden once we've completed it all.
3. How did your career in hairstyling begin?
It started with my mom taking me to the salon with her every four weeks since I can remember. She'd let me do what I wanted to my hair and I loved watching what other people did in the salon. When I was around fourteen years old, I decided to start cutting mine and my family's hair. I was headed off to school for acting and painting but detoured to hair school just before I turned 19, so I could venture out of my small town and see the world. I went to the Aveda Institute in Chicago and spent my afternoons at a barbershop down the street learning during my free time. The owners connected me with Nick Arrojo in NYC, and when he offered me a job, I took off for NYC without ever having been there before.
I spent just shy of two years in NYC, ultimately landing at The Chelsea Hotel's Suite 303 assisting April Barton, where I truly honed the cutting style that I have today. I also assisted Yannick D'ls, an incredible Parisian hairstylist, for fashion-related jobs which sent me in the direction of where I am today: splitting my time between freelancing in the entertainment/fashion industry and cutting hair for private clients. I came to LA for a visit in 2008 while on a road trip and decided to stay. I am repped by The Wall Group, and during the period of 2013-2019, I opened a series of hair salons with a bookstore/retail concept.
4. Is there a haircut that you’re known for?
This is always a tough question. I try to stay as innovative as possible so that I don't get stuck in a rut as an artist, only doing one cut. It's a great business model, but it gets old really quick. If I had to peg a method for how I do hair, it's understanding how to feel the hair and using your cutting techniques to move weight and texture around. There is so much beauty and skill in knowing how to read someone: their face, their body, their lifestyle, where they are in life. These all go into putting together a haircut for someone. I have heard that people love the way I make hidden layers. The kind that are soft and give body and movement to the hair without being choppy. So if I had a style, I guess that would be it. Effortless, sexy haircuts. And for my men? I have an ethos that only handsome haircuts happen around here. I send guys out looking and feeling sexy, without being over the top.
5. What are your top five products you couldn’t live without?
6. How do you stay fit?
I like to vary my workouts:
Running 1-2 a week
Sauna + Ice Bath
7. Do you follow any diet?
No diet, just following portion control as much as I can. A fist full of protein, two fists of veg, a palm of carb, and a thumb of fat.
I did find that my most life-changing experience with food was doing the Elimination Diet to truly realize my problem foods and to slow down + reduce my stress.
8. What comes to mind when you think of Varley?
Varley to me feels like the embodiment of strength in women and this comes in many forms, not just exercise. Strength comes from softness, honesty, empowerment, and embracing change. Varley to me is a fluid brand that supports women in all these ways.
9. Where do you see yourself in ten years' time?
Living somewhere by the beach, continuing to create new experiences and projects to share with people. I'm inspired by nature, so I hope that's where you would find me, feeling inspired and continuing the spark of magic in all the things I love to do.
10. What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
Trust your gut. It never lies.
11. Tell us a secret…
I've recently found out I acquired a new nickname called Hair Jordan. I used to be big into basketball from the age of 8-17 and people were so shocked to hear I'd changed from sports to the arts. My boyfriend thinks it's funny that I have this slice of history and since I'm well into my hair career now, I've now officially become, Hair Jordan.